18th PIHABF: A Day of Everything that Flies (….gets GROUNDED!)

The 18th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta was held February 21-24, 2013 at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. Their tagline says it’s going to be “A Weekend  of EVERYTHING that FLIES!” It’s four days of nothing but hot air balloons, aerobatic show, paragliding exhibition, skydives, flybys from different teams, ultralights, gliders, radio-controlled aircraft, etc, etc.. It was a jam-packed schedule with events happening every 15 or 30 minutes throughout the day, each day, every day! Because I work weekends, the only free day I have for my first chance to be part of this event is one its Second Day.

pihabf_cover

It would turn out to be a rainy day as implied by the frequent showers in the late afternoon the previous day. The event at our destination might have been a complete fail, but the trip was still a win! It was my first time to ride two up with a heavyweight pillion on a wet, longer-than-a quickie ride.

We left Laguna at 3AM and was in Antipolo in an hour to meet-up with my pillion. We took McArthur Highway passing thru Bulacan then Pampanga. It was a 150-km ride on unfamiliar roads.

pihabf_pampanga

We got through Bulacan shortly after 6AM and refueled in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Just before arriving in Clark, I asked a fellow rider while waiting at a red light. He not only gave us directions but offered to lead us to the right way. Shoutout to you Pathfinder of Team MCP LS2. You have lived up to your road name. 🙂

We arrived in Clark before 8AM and we saw two hot air balloons already airborne. That would be the first and last one we’ll see that day.  We had a hard time looking for the venue because there weren’t any signs posted; not even a sign for SM Clark. Even more surprising was I did not see a single cop on the streets who could point us to the right way.

We finally got to the venue but it’s a bit too late. The paragliders we saw just before parking our motorcycles has now taken refuge from the rain; and so did the rest of the attendees.

These are the only ones airborne while we were there.

These are the only ones airborne while we were there.

something to see at least.

something to see at least..

ZZzzzzZZzZ.. boring....

ZZzzzzZZzZ.. boring….

we paid P250 to see these up in the sky, you know!

we paid P250 to see these up in the sky, you know!

After eating lunch, we slept for 2 hours just like everyone else.

After eating breakfast, we slept for 2 hours just like everyone else.

These guys were definitely having a better day than most of us

These guys were definitely having a better day than most of us.

By noontime, we've decided to leave and have lunch at SM Clark instead.

By noontime, we’ve decided to leave and have lunch at SM Clark instead.

Aha! There you are...

Aha! There you are…

This gotta be the highlight of our day.. lol

This gotta be the highlight of our day.. lol

The weather has not improved at all so we decided to leave by before 3PM. Somewhere in Apalit, I noticed that my braking power has significantly decreased. A quick check on my rear brake revealed the problem.. my brake pads has completely been worn out.

A 1-hour pit stop near Calumpit, Bulacan to replace my brake pads.

A 1-hour pit stop near Calumpit, Bulacan to replace my brake pads.

a quick rest before taking on the heavy traffic as we near Metro Manila.

a quick rest before taking on the heavy traffic as we near Metro Manila.

300 kms of wet, slippery road..

300 kms of wet, slippery road..

The trip was still successful since we did not encounter any mishap on the road even if it was raining all the way, all the time. As for the Hot Air Balloon Fest? We’ll, I can’t say the organizers did something wrong; but just the same they didn’t do anything right. Yeah, yeah, our fault we picked the wrong day to go but they could’ve at least offered some kind of token of appreciation to those who went on the 2nd day. A free happy meal perhaps? Or maybe a 50%-off-on-your-ticket-if-you-come-back-tomorrow deal? Even if most won’t return, it would still be a nice gesture especially since it was as hot as hell come Saturday and Sunday. Two words: hashtag bitter!

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About Dom de la Torre

The rider is a 20-something Filipino that rides a Honda Wave 125cc underbone. He knows little about motorcycles yet loves the experience going places on two wheels. Rider Ako is a motorcycle-slash-travel blog. The rider not only shares to you travel destinations and what to see there but also the experience of getting there. You will read about the thrills and adventure when he rides solo, the romance of riding in tandem, the camaraderie riding with a group, the excitement participating in events, and anything that he thinks you might find interesting.When he's broke and the fuel's empty, he will share stories about motorcycling how he sees it through his helmet visor.
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